Tax Rate Decreases, Budget Soars

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The town's primary property tax rate will decrease slightly if the Payson Town Council approves Chief Fiscal Officer Glenn Smith's recommendation at the regular town council meeting Thursday evening.

Smith is proposing a decrease from $0.2867 per $100 of assessed value to $0.2752, but homeowners shouldn't get too excited about the amount they're going to save.

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Chief Fiscal Officer Glenn Smith

"It amounts to an $11.50 decrease on a $100,000 home or $23 on a $200,000 home," Smith said. "Remember, that's the town's portion only, and the town has a very, very small portion of the total tax rate when you add the school district rate and the county rate and the special districts into it."

And if your house has appreciated, as they tend to do these days, you'll probably see a tax increase.

"The rate will go down, but if their assessed value went up that will impact it," Smith said.

Sources of revenue include sales tax, state-shared revenues, user fees, grants, franchise license fees, licenses and permits, and charges for town services. Smith said consumers shouldn't expect a sales-tax increase.

The town's total property valuation is $170,159,572.

Bed-tax increase

If, as expected, the council approves the tax rate, the budget process will be finished. But Smith will be back at the next meeting to institute an increase in the hotel-bed tax from 3 percent to 5 percent to fund the police-reserve academy program. The increase would add $2 to the cost of a $100 hotel room. However it will be two to three months before it's implemented.

Staff raises

The council approved the final budget at a special meeting Thursday, Aug. 4. At nearly $40 million, it's 14.8 percent or $5 million more than last year's budget.

The budget includes $1.3 million in market-salary adjustments for town employees, the most contentious line item, Smith said. Four councilors favored an even larger increase, but councilors Robert Henley and Tim Fruth led a vocal minority. They said the market study used to determine the pay increases was skewed in favor of bigger raises based on larger municipalities.

In the end, the council accepted a compromise proposed by Carpenter that trimmed $100,000 off the bottom line. The proposed budget also includes a cost-of-living increase for all employees.

Budget highlights

Major capital outlays of $450,000 for "pavement preservation;" $1.1 million for the McLane Road improvement project; $1.8 million for the Airport Road improvement project; and $1.2 million for the Westerly Road improvement project are other budget highlights.

The council also passed $500,000 to remodel the Main Street fire station and $700,000 for the Rumsey Park ball-field development.

The budget also designates money for new town personnel: two employees each to the fire and water departments, a full-time accountant and an information services specialist.

Airport advertising signs

The council is also expected to approve the permit process for airport-advertising signs that will be placed in a kiosk with hotel, restaurant and related information for pilots.

"As you go down the steps (to the runway), we'll have a sign kiosk to the left and it would be mounted there on two pedestals," Airport Manager Ted Anderson said. "It will have a speed-dial phone and it will be for visiting pilots."

The signs will not obstruct the views of Crosswinds Restaurant patrons.

"The entire sign is probably 4-by-8 and we'll probably have anywhere from 10 to 15 little signs," Anderson said. The cost for advertising on the board will range from $12.50 a month to about $75, depending on the size of the ad. Revenue will go to the airport.

Fire station renovation

Public Works Engineer LaRon Garrett will ask the council to approve a $567,747 construction contract to remodel a portion of the Main Street fire station. The price includes a basic steel-shell building, an unfinished mezzanine in the back of the building, and a masonry facade to comply with Green Valley Redevelopment Area design guidelines.

Most of the money is from a bond issue passed by voters, but almost $42,000 is coming from the town's contingency fund.

Fire Chief Marty deMasi is also requesting two new vehicles, a 2006 Ford F-450 Super Cab four-wheel drive and a 2005 Ford F-150 Super Crew four-wheel drive. The trucks, which upgrade existing vehicles, will be purchased from the wildland response fund and have no impact on the town's general fund.

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